The Successful Home Sale: Step 4 - To Prep Your Home (or Not?)

Real Estate Agent with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage BRE#01732313

What catches your attention best – ‘fixer’ or ‘move-in ready’? At opposite ends of the scale, these two options have very different audiences. Both audiences require different levels of home preparation to garner interest.


Move-in Ready – functionally sound, and cosmetically appealing

Fixer – usually implies deferred maintenance, visibly worn and often outdated


Move-in Ready – will command more interest but comes at a higher price

Fixer – there is a significant market for fixers, from buyers with limited funds to investors. And a bargain price is expected, but depending on inventory levels, not always as low as buyers hope.

So as you consider your objectives in selling your home, does yours fall into one of these categories? If so, consider your time and budget.


If you have money set aside to invest in the house for home preparation, great. More than likely you will re-coup those costs, as most buyers prefer a move-in-ready home. In a high inventory market, presenting your house for sale in “move-in ready” condition will put you in a better position to actually sell it rather than have it languish on the market, potentially enduring price reductions. In a low inventory market, you are likely to attract a significantly larger share of buyers in that particular price range, often resulting in multiple offers with over asking prices. If you decide to invest money in repairs and improvements, schedule an appointment with your Realtor to do a walk-through and advise. Many homeowners I talk to get overwhelmed with the task at hand, and aren’t sure which things are necessary and which are not. Your agent can help you with:

  • Necessary repairs to widen your buyer pool
  • Repairs or improvements that won’t have a good return on investment
  • Cosmetic improvements that make the house more visually appealing
  • Staging where warranted to help accentuate the homes size


Not everyone has the luxury of time when it coms to home preparation. And depending upon circumstances, there can be an emotional burden as well. Some of those factors include:

  • Relocation
  • School enrollment
  • Trustee sales with multiple decision makers
  • Owners with hectic work schedules and travel
  • Divorce
  • Financial insolvency

Is Home Preparation Right for You?

Careful consideration should be given to the emotional and/or financial strain of a lengthy or costly home preparation plan. Investors do this all the time, and make a tidy profit at it. But most homeowners don’t have the time or money to make a full overhaul of a house a practical decision. In cases such as these, again consult with your Realtor. Assessing your home’s current condition in comparison to others in the relative area and size range, will help you determine a price point and level of home prep that will attract buyers willing to purchase that fixer and put in the necessary sweat equity.

Related Posts:

Step 1: Weighing Your Options

Step 2: Get Real

Step 3: Evaluate Your Home Price


Comments (5)

Jennifer Provencio
San Diego County and Central Valley - Oceanside, CA
The Reverse Mortgage Speciailist

Hi Karen, this is a great article. A lot of people want the best of both worlds. They want  an inexpensive home that is completely fixed up. You are right. Typically the fixer and move in ready homes have two different buyers. 

Jun 26, 2015 02:08 PM
Praful Thakkar
LAER Realty Partners - Andover, MA
Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale

Karen Crowson - move-in ready home has it's own advantages and certainty compared to fixer-upper! Depends what fits the budget and time line.

Jun 26, 2015 03:12 PM
Karen Crowson
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Rancho Bernardo, CA
Your Agent for Change

Yes, Jennifer. What everyone wants is that beautifully updated home at a fixer price!

Praful, nice to see you here. budget is key, isn't it?

Jun 26, 2015 03:18 PM
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Karen nice to see you again, hope all is well missed you here on the Rain....great post, Endre

Jun 26, 2015 04:24 PM
Karen Crowson
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Rancho Bernardo, CA
Your Agent for Change

Hi Endre,

Good to see you as well. Unfortunately, I haven't been posting as I used to. When you break a habit, it's hard to get it going again. But I'm going to try :)

Jun 27, 2015 11:25 AM